Thursday, February 28, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Teacher Inservice Days

Teaching teens is stressful.

Staying on top of schedules, hormones, deadlines, and a step ahead in increasingly complicated subjects can be overwhelming - multiplied exponentially by the number of teenagers you are teaching.

You will be a better teacher (not to mention a better mother) if you give yourself a day from time to time to study ahead, de-stress, file some of those forms that come with graduating seniors and working teens, and maybe (just maybe) catch up on the laundry.

Your home is your classroom.  Your life is part of the learning.  It's difficult to homeschool effectively if either one is falling apart. When chaos closes in, as it will from time to time, take my advice, and take a day to pull yourself together to return ready and refreshed tomorrow.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse Physics Follow-ups.

We watched Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse, last night.  I had too chuckle at the fact that I had just posted about giving up on physics, and then found myself up late looking up physics tie-ins for the movie - but that's homeschooling for you.

We are currently off on completely different studies, but there are a few links I don't want to lose track of.

Discovery Education has a Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse virtual fieldtrip along with a few so-so STEM activity sheets dealing with the multiverse, and a couple of literature lead-ins for students (elementary up to grade 9).

Dr. Don Lincoln from Fermilab shows some of the equipment and theories used to inspire sequences of the film (this one might be as interesting for the artists in the family as for the scientists).

Myth Stories gives a very brief and simple explanation of the history of the multiverse theory.

Jame's Kakalios' The Physics of Superheroes (one of those unread books from our bookshelf) has a couple of math heavy chapters dealing with the old school Spider-Man issues (Chapter 3: The Day Gwen Stacy Died - Impulse and Momentum, and Chapter 4: Can He Swing From a Thread? - Centripetal Acceleration)

The Wired website also has a number of (math heavy-ish) physics themed posts about Spider-Man, such as this one, about his webs.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - High School Science

If I'm being completely honest, I have to admit that I have really struggled to find what I would consider to be a good high school science curriculum for homeschoolers.  Either texts are too basic, overviews really, with no math at all, or they are intended to be taught by science majors, and don't provide enough explanation.  After teaching high school for six or seven years now, I have stopped looking.

I'm not a science shirk, but my major was international studies with a minor in English literature.  So, while I took a good deal of science in high school - 1 semester of general "earth" science, 1 semester of biology, 2 semesters of chemistry, and 2 semesters of physics, and even took a little science in college - 1 semester of geology, and 1 of biology, I have not found myself equal to the task of teaching upper level high school science.

What do we do then?
  1. We keep things in perspective. I don't mean to sound anti-educational in any way by this, but honestly, neither the Man of the House nor I have used even half of the science we learned in high school.  That's not to say we don't benefit from, or appreciate science every day, but we are not scientists or health professional ourselves, and have only needed a rudimentary understanding of most scientific concepts to function in our daily lives.  Despite the current STEM push in schools, not every student needs, or will use, an in depth science study.  It is possible my children will not need upper level high school science. With my three who are moving on, it has not held them back from anything they've wanted to do yet. So, I try not to panic. 
  2. We seek outside help. I've mentioned before that we have a very good dual-enrollment program through our local community college.  We have taken advantage of science classes there.  Or at least A(age 18) has, and I hope to have D(age 16) enrolled next year.  None of my oldest three have been interested in pursuing science related fields, and so the college or university level science classes they've taken haven't turned out to be much more in depth than what we provided at home.  D, however, seems to have an interest in science, so I hope to encourage him to take more than the entry level classes.
  3. We embrace the basics.  I might not be able to teach everything, but that doesn't mean I don't teach anything.  Science is a huge subject area, and even if we stay in the shallows, we won't run out of new things to learn.  This is especially true of geology and biology, where lab material is lying right outside our door.  Chemistry is harder (I wouldn't want to accidently blow up the house), and physics is almost impossible (even the Crash Course Physics videos went over our heads).   For chemistry and physics we tend to stick more to what we can read, to overviews, and to "the history of" type studies, which still gives us a lot to cover.
  4. We push ourselves.  We take our classes to the far limits of what we can learn at home, pushing into the math as far as we can, going back learning new math and pushing some more, keeping in mind that there is more to learn if we can master it (here I really am saying we, because at this point, I'm a fellow student, more than a teacher to my teens).
It's still great to be a homeschooler.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Homeschool High School Books and Curriculum - Look to the Bookshelves!

I've been doing some pre-spring cleaning lately, and it has occurred to me, yet again, that if we'd ever take the time to actually read all of the books we have crammed onto our overloaded bookshelves, stacked on dressers, stuffed into drawers, or boxed in our closets we'd have covered the equivalent of a good high school education, and then some.

If you're like me (and I've been in enough houses of other homeschoolers to know that you most likely are) you like books.

You probably had a number of books before you started having children, or ever imagined you'd homeschool them - favorite books from childhood, old texts from high school or college classes, used bookstore finds, and new series splurges.  

Then, when you started homeschooling you acquired more.  Some of them you bought, some you borrowed and never returned (sorry Mom), some you were gifted -

"You homeschool don't you?  My aunt just died, and we're cleaning out her house, and she had a whole set of World Book Childcraft Encyclopedias..."

They've been on your shelves all these years.  You've lugged them with you from house to house, shuffled them from room to room, bought new bookcases to accommodate them.  They've flattened folded papers, pressed flowers, held down the edges of forts, formed the foundations of ramps...

… but have they been read?  I mean really read, not just plundered for bits of information or a forgotten poem.

If you're like me, you kept them for the day when your children would be old enough to read them, appreciate or understand them.  Some you thought would be good, but were over their heads, or just not what you were looking for at the time.  You hoped you'd get back to them eventually.

If your kids are in high school, or about to be, eventually has come.  So, let me encourage you (and myself) to stop overlooking, and start your teens reading, the great books stacked on shelves right in front you.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Books to Movies: Mortal Engines

The boys and I watched Mortal Engines, last night. We enjoyed it as a stand alone movie.  It's predictable, but fun, and beautifully filmed.

It's a book adaption too...

… but of the sort where you recognize the setting, and the characters are all (or mostly) there, but they're better looking, or the wrong age, wearing the wrong clothes, in wrong places, saying the wrong things at the wrong times.  It can be jarring, until you accept it's just a completely different story altogether. Even the tone is different.

When I read the book (the first of four in the Mortal Engines series) it reminded me of City of Ember combined with Mary Shelly's Frankenstein as retold by someone like Douglas Adams.  Odd, but quirky in an interesting enough way to keep me reading (or listening, as the audio books are well narrated by Barnaby Edwards).

The movie was more like City of Ember (the book, not the movie) meets the Terminator while visiting Waterworld with a smidge of Star Wars thrown in for good measure as envisioned by Peter Jackson (so add in a heavy, Lord of the Rings touch to wrap it all up).

The film is lighter and less dystopian than the book series.  The Man of the House actually asked, a few minutes in, if it was supposed to be a comedy.  It leaves out or alters enough of the subplots and character developments to make further adaptations of books in the series unlikely, if not impossible.  Some of what it leaves out helps to make the film more appropriate for a slightly younger audience than the books  - which deal with death and sexuality in a grim, as in the brother's Grim, kind of way.  The film leaves out the sex (which really isn't in the first book, anyway) and keeps the violence to a PG-13, sci-fi variety.

If you're a fan of the Mortal Engine series, I would still suggest watching the movie.  There is an interesting visual dynamic near the end, watching St. Paul's cathedral being turned into a weapon and used against a stronghold of the far east, that might add an interesting, if unintended dimension to the story.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - More Little Women Movie Adaptations

My plan of luring the younger girls into pages Louisa May Alcott's classic novel were thwarted yesterday by G (age 19) popping in for a visit with her sisters in the afternoon.  Not that I wasn't happy to see her, but her arrival did leave Little Women sitting, still unread, on the table.

E (age 14) suggested instead, that the girls watch Little Women again, so G could share in the story too.  G was uncertain at first, when she heard how much the girls had cried watching the 1994, Susan Sarandon/Winona Ryder film.

But E had seen a modern adaptation on Amazon...

... and convinced me to rent it for them.  They were pretty confident a modern telling of the story wouldn't be as sad.  In truth, we'll never know, because the whole thing was so bad (flash forwards and back, bad acting, overly angry characters, stupid homechool references, and a general gutting of the story) that we turned it off about fifteen minutes in.  Which I guess was sad, because I could see a few elements from the original story - the girls' acting out Pilgrim's Progress, the March parents' desire to encourage character development and improvement in their daughters - in this version, that were missing, or underplayed in the older adaption.

The girls settled instead on a three episode, 2018, Masterpiece Theater edition from PBS, with Angelia Lansbury playing old Aunt March, and Emily Watson as Marmee, available on Amazon Prime.

It expands the story, but keeps the spirit, and is beautifully filmed and acted.  The mother's character has been modified somewhat (which I'm not sure if I cared for or not), focusing in on her feelings as an empty-nester. The girls still cried, but for Marmee being left alone, instead of for Beth "going on ahead" this time.

I think my favorite of the three is still the Susan Sarandon version.  Maybe that's just because it's the first adaptation of the book I remember watching.  My mother tells me the she still prefers the one with Katherine Hepburn.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Books to Movies: Little Women

The boys were out this evening, so the girls and I seized the opportunity to watch the 1994 film version of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.  They haven't read the story, but I listened to an audio version of the first seven or eight chapters of the book today, blaring it through a Bluetooth speaker, so I could hear it all through the house while I was cleaning, and they all agreed to watch the watch it with me tonight.

As we were sobbing our way through the ending, I was reminded again of what a truly excellent literary movie adaptation should be.
  • A movie that contains enough of the original story to feel familiar and right if you've already read it.
  • A movie that leaves out enough of the story, that you'll want to read the book immediately afterwards, if you haven't already, to get more of the story.
  • A well acted movie.
  • A beautifully set movie.
  • A movie with a tone that matches the book.

This is absolutely one of those types of films.

I've been trying without success to get the girls to read Little Women for years.  I read it when I was nine years old.  My sister-in-law gave me beautiful hardback copies of Heidi and Little Women for Christmas that year, and I loved them both (possibly because I thought my sister-in-law was the most wonderful person ever, but also because they are great stories).  I couldn't wait to share them with my own daughters.  I still have the books.  They're on our bookshelf.  Heidi has been read, Little Women has not.

I think that will change after tonight.  At any rate, my old, cherished copy of Little Women will be on the breakfast table tomorrow morning - waiting to be read.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Potter-Worthy Crochet Patterns

A(age 18) had to pick up a copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for one of her dual-enrollment classes starting later this semester.  I thought just in case she's secretly enrolled at Hogwarts (instead of in the lit. and film class she's claiming the book is for) I'd better plan birthday presents for her accordingly.

It was, as usual, a last minute decision, but I managed a house scarf and matching keychain owl, thanks to a couple of very simple (and free) crochet patterns from LiveAbout and Ravelry.

I absolutely love finding free crochet and knitting patterns online to go along with whatever theme we happen to be on about.  It 's just one more of those little things that's made it easy to add last minute touches of whimsey and fun to our birthdays, holidays, and homeschooling studies over the years.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Finding the Common Elements in Teen Dystopian Novels

Dystopia: an imagined world or society in which people lead wretched, dehumanized, fearful lives. (Merriam-Webster)

At the beginning of the week, I rolled a blank sheet of butcher's paper across the table, and asked the kids to use it to brainstorm out the elements they thought were common to all the young adult dystopian novels they've read or heard discussed (since they've each read different novels or series from the genre).

We scribbled about 25 different ideas across our paper, and then started filling book titles under them that contained those elements to see if we could narrow down the distinct features of teen dystopians that might set them apart from other genres, such as fantasy (Harry Potter, for instance) or Gothic (like Wuthering Heights).

Once they had filled our "chart" in with 8 books from the genre - The Hunger Games, City of Ember, Maze Runner, Divergent, The Giver, The Selection, Matched, Ready Player One, and Mortal Engines, and a couple out of the genre to test against (Harry Potter, Wuthering Heights, and Star Wars) we went back through and circled the items that had the most books under them (there was some heated debated for the inclusion of titles under some of the headings).

We ended up with a list of 13 common elements of YA dystopian novels:
  • odd or decaying setting
  • set in the future
  • post-war or ecological disaster
  • restrictive rules
  • strict divisions of people
  • walls or obstacles trapping characters in place
  • strange or intrusive technology
  • monsters
  • loss of family
  • lost or unknown knowledge
  • a journey for the protagonist
  • deprivation
  • a threat of death for protagonist
I thought we would end up with a metaphor for coming of age (leaving home, finding a job, getting married etc).  It turns out that modern young adult dystopian novels are saying that whether a protagonist is good or bad, they will face a corrupt and unlivable world that their parents, whether loving or abusive, will be powerless to protect them from. Even when they think they've battled and escaped their manipulators, someone/thing equally bad will rise in its place or will have been there all along.  The best they can hope for is to grab a little love or friendship along the way, and hopefully enjoy a few hours of a broken and wounded peace before (or maybe when) they die.

Dystopia indeed.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Valentine Cookie Grams

When I was in high school we had fundraisers on Valentine's Day, where you could pre-order a cookie gram (an extra large cookie frosted with a Valentine's message) to be delivered to a friend during class time on the 14th.

I thought it would be fun help the girls make up a batch of their own cookie grams to deliver door to door to some of their homeschooling friends.  But then it started snowing - again, and I pictured myself spending my Valentine's Day sliding across town, and decided they might do just as well delivering them to the kids at youth group tonight.

Pressed for time, we scaled back the cookies to a sixth of a batch of dough each.  I had already been experimenting with baking chocolate chip hearts, so I had dough already chilled in the refrigerator (if you don't chill the dough you end up with a cookie blob instead of a heart).

We shaped the cold dough, pushing it down by hand, into large, exaggerated heart shapes about 1/2'' thick...

… and baked them for 13 minutes.

After they had cooled for as long as we could let them, the girls outlined them, and piped on each of their friends' initials in chocolate frosting...

… using a cheapo, plastic decorating kit I picked up for under $5.00 at Walmart, and am now completely in love with.  It was nicer than messing around with piping bags...

… and it made it very easy for the girls to control the frosting.

We were quickly running out of time, so we popped the cookies in the freezer in order to harden the frosting enough to bag.  Each one fit perfectly into a quart sized zip-up baggie.

The last I saw of them, they were loaded into a box and headed out the door for delivery.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Selecton Series by Kiera Cass - Parent Review

Valentine's Day this week + a dystopian literature study in the works + all five books of The Selection series being available from our online library (I adore the online library) = one book review, as promised.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Books in the Series: The Selection, The Elite, The One, The Heir, and The Crown (plus a handful of novellas, not reviewed here).

Author: Kiera Cass


Summary:  In the future, after war, occupation, and counter-revolution, North America has been rebuilt into a single country, with a population divided into a strict caste system under a monarch.  Royal daughters marry foreign dignitaries to form or strengthen alliances.  Royal sons marry commoners to unite the monarchy to the people.  Girls from any caste can enter their names into a lottery to be drawn at random, one from each province, to compete for the affection of an eligible prince.  Marriage to the prince means a raise in status to the highest caste.  Competing for the honor raises the contestants to the third highest caste, provides a financial stipend to the girls' families, and increases even the losers' chances of marrying above their original status, thereby elevating their entire family. For thirty-five girls, it is the chance of a lifetime, except for those whose hearts are elsewhere.

ReviewThe Selection series is most definitely a dystopian romance - with a capital R.

On a scale from one to ten for YA dystopian novels, if Orson Scot Card's Ender's Game is on one end, with no romance at all, and Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games, containing, but not completely driven by a love triangle, is in the middle, then Cass' series sits easily at the far end, as a YA romance in a dystopian setting.

That is not to say it doesn't contain a few unique, or thought provoking dystopian elements.  It is, for instance, one of the few YA dystopian series I've come across that while set in a futuristic version of North America, still has some interaction with, and explanation of what's happening in the rest of the world.  There is also some background given to explain how the world has changed to become the one in which the characters find themselves.

The first book is lively, well-paced and easily draws readers into the story, and along to the second book.  Unfortunately the second book slows down, and starts to drag with the sameness of second season reality show-like predictability.  The third book wraps up in a sudden, whizz-bang, world up-turning set of events that should leave the main characters shaken and emotionally scarred, but instead barely impacts them.

The interplay between the competing girls is fun in the first three books, if sometimes two-dimensional, and helps to fill out the characters more than in the last two books of the series (which are supposed to take place 20 years after the events of the third book), where the point of view changes from the "selected" to the one selecting - a princess for the first time.  The change in point of view narrows and constricts character development.  In the series' defense, I should add, that I read the first three books, but listened to the audio version of the last two, and did not care for the narrator (she came off as robotic and whiny to me), and that might be tainting my opinion.  

Audience:  13-15 year old girls (my guess), and something I tried to keep in mind as I read the series.

Language: Multiple uses of d--n, h--l, and the misuse use of God's name.

Sexual Content:  Flirtation and kissing for the most part, some "making-out", often in bedrooms, or bedroom-like settings, and once or twice involving some clothing being removed with a desire to take things further than it goes. Also, there are several instances of sneaking out of windows for clandestine, nighttime rendezvous, that are both against parental knowledge and rules as well as against the law.  There is one homosexual relationship, with a passing mention of kisses between boys (in the very last book).  There is also some talk of adultery, and illegitimate children.

Other Potential Negative Content:  Parental abuse, liberal consumption of alcohol, violent punishment of major characters, death of a parent by heart-attack, the violent (not graphic) murder of several characters (including a couple of parents).

I would love to be able to recommend this series to you.  I'm far from being in the target audience, but even with the silliness of the teen romance, I enjoyed Casss' light and easy writing style.  The language, and sexual content though, will be enough to keep me from recommending it to my own daughters, or to you.

It's great to be a homeschooler. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Sweet Treats and Sappy Stories

With Valentine's Day coming up this week, I thought it would be a good time to add a touch of sugar and sap to our day.  So, I gave the girls a recipe for easy Valentine's Day Patties from Mom on Timeout to try, while I finished listening to The Crown, the last book in The Selection Series, by Kiera Case (the series showed up in my online library "suggested reading" list, and it was available for checkout - so what could I do?)

The dough for the patties, which consisted of powdered sugar, corn syrup, butter, and strawberry extract(the link for the recipe is above) was pleasing to work with, sort of like the feel of a marshmallow fondant, or maybe the Kool-Aid candy clay we made several years ago...

… though honestly, I'd have to try that recipe again to remember for sure, and since I said then that that candy tasted like Skittles - I might have to try it again anyway.  But regardless, the patty dough was not sticky at all, and rolled nicely into balls, which when rolled in granulated sugar could be pressed down with a fork...

… and then easily pinched and pulled into little heart shapes, all ready for Valentine's Day.

They need 24 hours to dry, but naturally, we tasted a few right away.  They look good, but they are very sweet - not surprising given the four cups of powdered sugar plus corn syrup in the recipe...

… which was pretty much how we felt about The Selection Series - too sappy for our taste, but about what you'd expect from a series billed as a "dystopian romance"(again, it was in the library list, what could I do?).  I had been planning on giving the series a quick review here, and leaving it at that, but there was just enough of interest in the books, keeping in mind what they are and the audience (13-14 year old girls) they are aimed at, to merit a complete review, tomorrow.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Friday Fun: Educational Playing Cards

The kids, especially the older teens, play a lot of cards with their friends (Garbage  and Scum!  are their current favorites) and A (age 17) usually has a couple of decks in her purse just in case opportunity for a game arises.

As with our coffee mugs, I try to find decks that bring something extra to the table.  The kids' favorites right now are Shakespearean "Insult" and "Quote" cards from Prospero Art (non-affiliate links).

Who doesn't want to have a good Shakespearean insult handy when being dealt losing cards?

We also have a couple of sets of Jane Austen themed cards from the same company, with quotes and illustrations from four of her novels - one for each suit...

… which has gotten quite a bit of play - so much so in fact, that I noticed they're becoming worn and shabby, and decided it's about time to order a new pack or two.

When you get to looking, there are so many different sets to choose from it can be difficult to narrow it down.  We like to play cards, but we don't need more than a few decks on hand at a time.

I really wanted to order a set by Heritage Playing Cards with the British prime ministers on them...

… but Amazon only had one deck left in stock, and the kids' usually need two for their games, so I settled on a couple of fine art packs from Piatnik for them...

… and grabbed another set from Us Games Systems, endorsed by the History Channel, which I think the Man of the House (who also likes to play cards) will get a kick out of.  His grandmother was a plane spotter during WWII.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Don't Fear the Gap Year

I'm writing today's post as much for myself as for anyone else.  A (age 17) has been throwing out the idea of taking a gap year (a year off between high school and college for travel, work, reflection and rest) with increasing frequency these days, and it's making me nervous.

I'm not sure why, because T (age 21) took a sort of a gap year between his freshman year in Bible school and his freshman (because NONE of his credits transferred) year at university, and it turned out to be a very good thing for him.

Still, the loss of momentum, the lures of the workforce, the opportunities for romantic or matrimonial entanglements all look like obstacles to a continuing education to me.  That's my fear.  A sees it as a time to gain focus, enthusiasm, direction and money to see her through the following four years (or hopefully two, as most if not all of her credits should transfer).

I decided that rather than arguing it out with her, I'd spend the day retracing the steps of T's journey, and I'm taking you with me (if you decide to keep reading, anyway).

Step 1 - T (age 17) graduated early from high school in the winter of 2014.  He had taken his SATs in the fall of his senior year, and immediately started receiving invitations to apply to various colleges (as students do).  He applied and was accepted into an online associates degree program from a Canadian Bible school.  We decided to let him graduate in December so he could take his first class in the spring of that year.

Step 2 - In the fall of 2015 he started into full time classes online.

Step 3 - He worked full time through the summer of 2016.

Step 4 - In the fall of 2016 he decided he didn't want to start back into classes.

step 5 - We weren't sure if he'd be going back to school or not, and so decided to have him take his HiSet (high school completion test) through our adult learning center.

Step 6 - We started charging him rent for the months he was not in school.

Step 7 - As part of his HiSet preparation program through the adult learning center, he had an opportunity to take a free college success class (that would transfer into the state colleges if he decided to take up a degree there) and a pre-welding course (to get a taste of the vocational programs being offered in our area).

A helicopter made during T's pre-welding course.

Step 8
  • He worked full time,
  • joined a young adult Bible study at church with others who were in school, in the military, or working,
  • attended plays, concerts and movies with friends and family 
  • joined in family activities

  • and kept an eye on the local job market.

Step 9 - By April of 2016 he was ready to apply for a business administration program at a nearby university.

Step 10 - He was accepted by May, and filling out FAFSA and scholarship applications.

Step 11 - In the fall of 2017 he was back to school a much more willing and ready student.

I wouldn't say it was an altogether easy year, there was soul searching and uncertainty, but looking back on it now, I wouldn't say it was a big deal or anything to worry about either.  And the difference between the T who graduated high school and the T who started university classes was significant.  He absolutely needed that time to grow-up and find direction.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Keep Track of Those Volunteer Hours For Scholarships!

Drawing by E (age 14)
Do your teens volunteer?

Are you aware of which volunteer activities count toward college scholarships?

Are they keeping a log of their volunteer hours?

A(age 17) has had some luck with "young leader" type scholarships that ask for a record of volunteer hours.  One of the scholarships she applied for and received was from a Christian liberal arts university, and so counted hours spent teaching Sunday school (she teaches the 4th-6th grade class at our church) and VBS, in addition to her hours volunteering with a humane society type organization cleaning out cat cages once a week, her student government and food bank hours at the college where she dual enrolls, the time spent rehearsing and performing skits for children at a homeless center with a community theater group, and even the hour or so she spent singing Christmas carols through retirement homes with the youth group.

We looked into a similar scholarship from our governor's office.  It allowed for some church based activities, such as serving meals at a homeless shelter, or delivering Thanksgiving baskets - but not anything that involved "proselytizing", so not Sunday school teaching or VBS work.

The one thing both scholarships had in common was that they wanted a detailed log of volunteer hours.  We had not thought to keep one.  When A was volunteering it was out of interest in the activity rather than with a thought to scholarships.  We ended up having to page back through our wall calendars to find the times she'd been at various places. Thankfully I keep a detailed schedule of who needs a ride to where and when, so no one ends up stranded.  It worked pretty well, but it was time consuming, and we probably missed some hours, and every hour counts!

If your teens are volunteering, and if there's even a slim chance they might want to go on to college, keep a log of their volunteer hours.  It will make life so much easier for them later.

You might want to peruse various university websites too, just to see what sort of community involvement are for scholarships.  There were several items (see list below) on the scholarship page of our the governor's scholarship that I might not have thought of.

Places and Organizations that offer volunteer opportunities:  

• 4-H
• Adopt a Grandparent/Homebound Elderly Companions
• Adopt a Highway
• Afterschool programs
• Big Brothers Big Sisters
• Boy Scouts
• Career and Technical Student Organizations
• Community Gardens
• Conservation Districts
• Family Career & Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)
• Future Farmers of America (FFA)
• Food banks and soup kitchens
• Girl Scouts • Habitat for Humanity
• Historical Societies
• Hospitals
• Humane Society
• Hunter’s Education Classes
• Libraries • Literacy Programs
• National Honors Society • Nursing Homes
• Meals on Wheels • Master Gardener Programs
• Museums, Art Galleries and Monuments
• Pow-Wow Events
• Preventative Drug, Alcohol, Violence, Abuse Programs
• Red Cross (Blood Drives, Emergency Preparedness Training, etc.)
• Ski patrol
• Student Council
• United Way
• Volunteer Fire Departments
• Youth Justice Council

Types of Service Activities:

• Afterschool mentoring
• Book drives
• Coaching
• Coat collections
• ESL tutoring
• Food drives
• Fundraising for nonprofits
• Global Youth Service Day activities
• Highway cleanups • Home weatherization
• Invasive plant removal
• MLK day activities
• Peer mediation
• Serving food at soup kitchens
• Trail building and maintenance
• Tutoring
• Serving as a hospital aid
• Bake sales for school clubs
• Helping at animal shelters
• Visits to senior homes

It's great to be a homeschooler.