Archives for August 2012

Homeschooling, Teens and Contracts

Teens and Accountability

Some days my teens share scripture with me, cook dinner and ooze maturity. Other days they forget to do math or to take showers. Even melt in a mess of emotions when I least expect it.

I wish first thing in the morning,  I could knock on their bedroom doors and ask which one is coming to breakfast.

How do you keep teens accountable with schoolwork, when you never know which attitude you will have in the morning?

At our house we have a school agreement, a verbal contract. I have typed up a list of school subjects and activities that must be completed every week. I have printed off a stack of them and on Sunday I put the date on one and hand it to my teens. I want them each week to check off the subjects as they finish them up. They know that on Friday at 3:00p.m. They must have completed everything on the list. If they have not, then the weekend is cancelled. Now I do offer grace on weeks when our schedules have exploded, but I communicate any changes before Friday. My teens can ask for an extension, and after hearing their cases, I accept or decline the request.

I have seen other contracts that state very specifically what is expected and what exactly the punishment will be and is signed by both parties.

Currently our agreements are a verbal contract, although I am thinking about writing up a formal one. The past few weeks my son has been stating his assignments are done and upon close inspection, I am finding blank answers. It seems he is forgetting to ask the questions he has in order to complete the assignments. Maybe a written contract on having blank answers will cause you to lose your iPod for the weekend will help.

Have you used contracts with your teens?

High School and Internships

High School and Internships
This year I am blessed to have a senior and a freshman in my house. I am almost done with one and just starting with another. Every school year has looked different over our career as homeschoolers. This year Thursdays are Internship Day.

I went to the owners of the company I work for (Bright Ideas Press) and asked them if my oldest son could spend one day in the office each week. It would be a chance for him to learn some of the different computer programs and experience an office environment. He will be earning his technology credit for the time spent there. We will also document what other things he accomplishes and might be able to give him another credit in career exploration. I know he will learn life-skills that will serve him well in adulthood.

A close friend of the family is expecting baby #3. They already have a 3 year old and 17 month old. The agreement for this internship looks like this, during the mornings my daughter will be helping with childcare and in the afternoons some light housework. My daughter will earn a credit for health. Her human development book walks her through the developmental stages and Thursday’s have become her lab time. She will be able to focus on appropriate activities and nutrition for this age group. Once again we will log all her time and she may earn an additional credit.

Now since I still have 2 younger kids at home, they have also found an internship. My 6th grader is going to help me clean a friend’s home. It’s his chance to earn some money, which allows us to begin teaching budgeting and tithing. Not to mention the proper way to clean.

My 3rd grader is going to be the teacher’s assistant for my friend who runs a kindergarten co-op at her house. Although he will enjoy a lot of the activities, it is a great opportunity for him to be the leader. Not something he gets to do a lot of being the youngest of 4.

Have internships played a role in your homeschool? Are you looking for one? Try finding a small business owner or friend who can share their gifts. Start asking around, you never know what door may open up.

Debt Free Interview with The Sociable Homeschooler

You know when they quote stats on how many people are afraid of public speaking, I am pretty sure I am number 2 or 3 on that list of thousands of people. It took me years of my Christian walk to be able to pray in front of folks. So imagine the surprise of my friends and family when not once but twice this month I was on the radio. I treasure this example of; when God calls you he will equip you.

On Friday, I had the privilege of sharing with Vivienne, the host for The Sociable Homeschooler Show, parts of my journey on becoming debt free. If you haven’t had a chance you can listen to the podcast here. Scroll down until you see my name, Stacey Lane.

I stand in the knowledge that I am not of this world. When the world looks at my small paid for house, my no debt budget, and my frugal ways, all while homeschooling, and shakes its head in confusion. I keep my attention on enjoying the adventure until He calls me home.

These talks have sparked my thoughts on writing a few blog posts on living in a small house. Sometimes a shift in thinking can make the difference in utilizing your space and keeping you from wanting what you don’t have.

All American History Jr. Government Lesson

All American History Jr.
After a quick trip to the library to gather books on the three branches of government, I printed out the folderbook figures and notebook pages from the mini government lessons in All American History Jr.


All American History Jr Warm-up Lesson:

  • To introduce our government lesson I placed 12 items on a cookie sheet. I chose items that related to different kinds of government. Some of the items I found were: courthouse building, dagger, dart gun, queen figure, a ruler, pencil of the presidents, army men, and a crown.
  • Then I covered the items with a towel, putting 1 minute on a timer, I allowed my boys to study the items. When the timer went off I covered the items back up. Then they had a few minutes to write down everything they could remember.
  • First I uncovered the ruler and asked what it had in common with government. We discussed how government makes “the rules” we follow. Next I uncovered the crown and queen figure to discuss monarchy and followed by the dagger and dart gun to discuss dictatorship. The pencil and courthouse helped to discuss a republic and democracy.

Now that their brains were warmed up, we read a book on the three branches of government.

Instead of doing another folderbook, I chose to use the figures on a posterboard. I sketched out a 3-branch tree and we taped the folderbook figures on the poster. They cut out leaves and on each leaf they wrote a description on each branch of government. We hung the poster up on the wall to review for the next few days.

I really liked the larger visual of the posterboard and plan to complete a few more this year.

We did go ahead and add the figures for veto, how a bill becomes a law, and Electoral College. Now they are ready for tomorrow’s lessons.


All American History JR Planning Session

All American History Jr. Planning

Today I am spending some much needed planning time on All American History JR. Volume 2.

I am a planner, I love to have things done ahead of time, because the littlest thing can throw me off track, like no tape or printer ink ☺

First I printed out the coloring pages, notebook pages, maps and puzzles for the first semester. Then scanning through the lesson plans to know which map and puzzle go in which lesson, I put together their notebooks.

I use the coloring page at the beginning of each lesson, since my boys like to color while I read to them. Then I added the notebook pages, followed by the map and the puzzles. Any other additional work and activities can be added as we complete the lessons. Keeping their notebooks in chronological order.

I did design a fun cover sheet for their notebooks, later they will color in some of the images and add some stickers. All American History Jr Blank-AAH-cover

Last year cutting out figures, taking notes and assembling the folderbooks really slowed us down. This year we have assembled the books in advance. With a pencil, I labeled the back of the information inserts and placed them in a plastic bag. This way they can just tape in the information and decorate the figures as they read the lessons. My son finds it difficult to pull out the important information from the lesson, I am going to use the folderbook as a guide for that information, and then have him fill in the notebook pages.

I printed out the challenge cards and timeline figures and hired my teenager to cut them out and place them in a plastic bag. Now they are in my teacher bin waiting for school to start.

The week before we actually start school, I am going to spend that time completing the Mini-Government lesson. This should be a great way to ease back into school and get ready for this coming election year!


Are you planning for All American History Jr this school year? Have any ideas you want to share? Please leave it in the comments!