Archive for the ‘Help for High School’ Category

A Conversation with Jean Hall

Brave Writer's SAT/ACT Online Essay class
by Nancy Graham, Brave Writer Minister of Magic

Hi everybody!

Our summer online writing classes are filling up but there are spots left in a choice few (classes start July 5th!)—

Jean and I hooked up for an online conversation about the SAT/ACT Essay class and what students get out of taking it.

Jean is a former newspaper reporter and literary magazine editor who homeschooled three children from birth—now they’re grown up, but Jean still has a house full of animals. We chatted via Zoom (which is like Skype), and I got to hear her dog, Dobby (who had a lot to say), and meet her lovely yellow cat, Fireball (the name Snowball had already been taken by her white cat).

After talking to Jean, I was convinced that no one should walk into a timed-essay test without the benefit of her experience. The SAT and ACT tests recently changed, and Jean redesigned the class to reflect those changes.

Find out more by listening to the podcast below. Summer is a great time to take this class—but I’ll let Jean tell you why.

Nancy

Sign Up for the SAT/ACT Essay Class!

The Enchanted Education for Teens

Enchanted Education for Teens

Pixie Dust for Teenagers!

How do we bring the energy of enchantment to teens?

  • What does it look like for engaged learning in high school?
  • How do we prepare our teens for college while indulging their curiosities and passions?
  • What do we do with teens who claim to be bored?
  • How do we know we’re doing enough?

Watch the scope below (now on YouTube!) and find out:

Need more help with teens?
Check out Brave Writer’s Help for High School

The Value of a Gap Year

Take a Gap Year
For years, I’ve been saying at home education conferences that more American high school graduates should take a gap year. ~Susan Wise Bauer

Liam took a gap year. Noah took a gap year. Some people think that the gap year needs to be “something productive.” Noah’s wasn’t anything extraordinary. It was his time to do what he wanted when he wanted to do it. Liam’s was a year of earning money to travel in Europe for a month. Both benefited from not going directly to college following high school.

Johannah is in the middle of several gap years, if you want to look at it that way. When many of her peers went directly into grad school after college, she chose to teach in France for a year, then work in social work for three years in New York and now is living in South America. She’s deferring her admittance to graduate school to continue her travels for one more year.

In your desire to prepare your kids for college, don’t forget that taking time off between high school and college is valuable!

Both Susan and I have shared that students we meet in our college classes who are a little older tend to bring more to the classroom and fare better than their younger peers. Something to enthusiastically consider!

Food for thought:

How Common is a Gap Year? by Adrienne Green

“…an increasingly popular tradition in the United States: the gap year….the year-long deferral where many students choose to travel, pursue special projects, or gain work experience.”

Helpful Facebook discussion on the Brave Writer page.

The Homeschool Alliance

“What feelings and memories do I associate with writing?”

What feelings and memories do I associate with writing

Hi Julie,

My beautiful daughter has just started studying your Help for High School. I thought you might like to read how she answered one of your questions.

We only changed one word “gust” to “stampede.”

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Carolyn

Returning to the Brave Writer philosophy for high school

More than a language arts program

Brave Writer mom, Dona, writes (and emphasis is ours):

Dear Julie,

We started homeschooling in January of 2002. I remember feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders as I began the journey of educating our children at home. In some areas I felt competent; in others completely incompetent. Writing was one of those terribly incompetent areas. We tried many different curricula, as well as me just making up writing assignments (oh, my, that was disastrous!). With each attempt I felt like I was alienating my child from the world of writing. I wasn’t much of a writer in school at any level; my undergrad and grad degrees are in a scientific field and my writing was rather bland. I wanted my children to learn how to write and write well. None was working.

Finally when Kimberly, our oldest, was 10 years old, I found you. We signed up for Kidswrite Basic and my eyes were opened to writing like never before. I watched my daughter flourish and begin to like to write. The feedback that you and your teachers give these children is so valuable in drawing out the writer in each of them. You teach them the power of words and language through real literature, their own experiences and by teaching them to observe the world they live in. You are rigorous and hold these kids to high standards, but in such a supportive environment that the kids succeed.

One of the greatest aspects of your classroom is the fact that each student can read the work of all the other students and see the teacher’s feedback. My children have learned about what works and what doesn’t work by reading so many other pieces of writing with feedback. I remember always wanting to see my peer’s work to understand where I fell in the spectrum and to see if I could learn more from others. It was often very difficult to get this kind of information unless my close friends were willing to share. Brave Writer is so much more than a language arts program; it is a philosophy that can be applied across the board…

The high school thing scares me, I’ll admit! Why? I don’t know for sure… I was in a foreign country in a foreign school during my HS years, don’t have a HS diploma, but managed just fine in college and grad school. I’m looking for a much more relaxed atmosphere here in our home. This year, everybody has been glued to the computer all day, tied to strict deadlines in everything. Kimberly thrives on this environment. I’m comfortable with her finishing here next year; she had 2 years of HS at home with a different atmosphere.

Nicole on the other hand, has lost any zeal for learning and is just checking off boxes. Part of online school she likes… interacting with the other kids. But the schedule is killing her. Her passion is her goats. We are just barely into building a real show herd. She has learned so much about the goats and is the best midwife ever! She knows how to go in and find legs that are coming out and arrange them to come out and pull. For her, studying out of a book doesn’t cut it. She needs hands on, an apprenticeship would be so good for her. Why don’t we have apprenticeships for HS aged kids? Why do we have to sit in a classroom or at the kitchen table to learn everything? I am not sure how to fashion a learning environment for her that could lead her to where she wants to be; possibly an American Dairy Goat Association judge, maybe an animal science degree, maybe vet tech or vet school. She isn’t motivated enough yet to do all the tedious study required to be accepted at vet school. I want to restore her love her learning. At the same time I’m afraid I won’t prepare her for college if that’s where she intends to go. I personally don’t think college is the end all be all and it may not be for her. Her father thinks otherwise, though. Mind you, he is very supportive of homeschooling, but believes all paths must lead to college.

I’ve been reading your posts and been feeling nudged to make changes; return to the Brave Writer philosophy I love so much. I’m trying to think out of the box, but that is hard for me! It would sure be nice to toss ideas around with you and those who really know how to do it. I want to bring back Tuesday Teatime, more reading together and still be able to prepare my kids for college if that’s where they are headed. I’m having a difficult time wrapping my brain around how to accomplish this. Is the ACT really the only factor for most schools if you don’t have a HS diploma? We can teach to the test, study for it and probably do well on it. Kimberly has done very well on the ACT. Do we have to have a transcript?

Sallie just finished Kidswrite Intermediate with you. She absolutely loved the class! She is sold on Brave Writer. I need to figure out what my “out of the box” is so I can be prepared for her and the 2 boys who follow her! Sallie loves to write and I don’t want to intimidate her or squash that love at all. She loves reading your daily writing tips. I’d like her to take Expository Essay next fall or winter. Do you think she is ready for that? Would that be your recommendation for her next course?

Julie, thank you so much for all you do. I’ve told you before, but I’ll tell you again… you are a presence in our home in a way that no other homeschooling influence has ever been. I feel like you are our friend and I so appreciate you! Thanks for listening!

Sincerely,
Dona

Thank you so much for your wonderful kind words of feedback! They mean a lot.

A few things occurred to me:

1) The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewelyn is fabulous for helping you think about things like apprenticeships, preparing for college in a more unschooling natural learning format. So get that. Cafi Cohen’s What About College? is also excellent (affiliate links).

2) Colleges LOVE unique experiences. They see transcript after transcript of AP courses and GPAs. They are far more impressed by stuff a child pursues independently. Noah put Klingon on his transcript for college and they counted it! He spent years immersed in constructed languages and supplied his reading list. They waived his second year of foreign language and second year of science due to that (he attends University of Cincinnati). Remember: becoming a cool person is far more interesting to colleges than ticking off the boxes. You have to do a certain amount of that, but it’s not the only thing.

3) The Expository Essay class would be great for Sallie. She can take it now or in the fall. Either.

4) College is important but it’s also expensive. I made the mistake of paying for Noah when he wasn’t ready. He quit for 3 years and is back now paying for it himself. Liam is not yet decided about college (18, done with high school) so he’s going to Europe for a month just to get out of the tedium of work and life here. He needs to have a new experience so he’s getting one. I told him I won’t pay for college until he knows he’s ready and wants to go.

This is an okay way to live. There’s no rule here that says they have to be ready at 18. Your daughter could be looking at places to work with goats. Why not? Is there a way to become a goat midwife? Or could she be a goat midwife blogger who photographs and records difficult births, regular births etc.?

Caitrin (16) kept a fashion blog for an entire year (13-14). She shopped at thrift stores and wore a completely new outfit every day. We took photographs each day and she wrote a description of the pieces, where they came from, and witty remarks. She subscribed to Vogue, Elle, W and other fashion magazines all year.

It’s good to fulfill basic high school requirements and to be “prepared” for the option of college, but you don’t want to shortchange the chance to do amazing things! This is the time for it.

My oldest two kids were in a Shakespeare Acting company in high school, btw, as one of their “big things.”

I hope that helps a little. You’ve been a wonderful family to work with over the years!

Julie

Image by Pat Pilon (cc cropped, text added)