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Do Your Teens KNOW What They Believe?

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, July 09, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 54 July 9, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- Teens Who Know What They Believe
Helpful Tips
-- Free Internet K-8 Classroom
Resource Review
-- Say What You Mean - Defending the Faith
Reader Question
-- Working and Homeschooling
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Worldview - Do Your Teens Know What they Believe?

No matter what our individual beliefs, most of us care about our
children being able, especially as they enter the teen years, to
think for themselves and express their opinions in a variety of
different matters.

We want our children to be able to THINK -- to find solid answers
to questions of wrong and right, justice and injustice, and life
purpose -- as opposed to just drifting along in a sea of indiffer-
ence, ignorance and apathy. For a Christian, this translates into
Bible study, and then writing, speaking, debate, and persuasion.
Others may follow along those lines with strong convictions about
things they feel to be equally 'spiritual' issues, such as conserv-
ing the gift of our natural world or fighting world hunger.

My oldest son has definitely demonstrated that he is my 'thinker'.
And for the second summer in a row, he was able to have a memorable
experience with Student Statesmanship Institute (SSI) in Lansing, MI.

This year, choosing the 'Senate' track, he found himself (by chance)
to be on the opposing end of some very volatile debates -- one about
grandparents' rights and the other about compulsory schooling until
age 18. Regarding the latter, his team *almost* had the debate won
until a very smarty pants girl (in his opinion) came up with a witty
picture of compulsory education. It was something like "You may be
able to lead a horse to water, but from a distance even drowning can
sure look a lot like drinking." UGH -- He was sunk after that!

Students come from all over to go to SSI in Michigan. It is a 5-day
college campus experience with excellent chaperoning and respected
speakers. They actually sit in the Capitol building right in the
Legislator's seats! It is an excellent, hands-on way to learn about
government. And to learn to THINK for yourself!

But -- for those of you who might not have a great opporutunity so
close to home -- I can recommend a few good resources for home study.

The first is one I've been impressed with for a very long time. This
one is secular, if that is something that you are looking for. It is
from Critical Thinking Press and it is called "You Decide". In this
workbook, the student is presented with case histories to make judge-
ments based on the first eight amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

According to the online description, "Students will sharpen their
critical thinking skills and their legal and historical knowledge as
they analyze the amendments, discover their origins, and rule on
actual cases presented before the U.S. Supreme Court." My son found
it amusing (and highly fun to annoy his mother) by taking the opposing
side on almost every decision and debating it with me! I don't think
anyone would be disappointed giving this a try as a government and/or
critical thinking/logic credit. Here is a link to see more about it:


Or you can contact my friend who is a rep, Cindy Powers, to order
directly at mamapow @ comcast.net

The other REALLY COOL (Christian) resource is authored by a long-time
reader of our Homeschool Notebook - JoJo Tabares. It is "Say What
You Mean: Defending the Faith". There is a full review in today's
newsletter -- just scroll down to our Resource Review section for more


Do you have comments to share about teaching our children to speak for
themselves with confidence?

I'd also still like to receive more input on sending your teens out
into the 'world' for trips such as volunteer service, missions trips,
or even general travel, to study a foreign culture, language, music,
arts study, etc.

Please write to me! Send your emails to: heather @ familyclassroom.net

Heather Idoni, mom to 5 boys (ages 7 to 17) in Michigan


Piano Is EASY For Kids

Start piano at home with your child.
Put the numbered stickers on your piano.
Read music with our books.
A great way to get kids started.
Come see all the fun songs you can play!



Helpful Tip

Free Internet K-8 Classroom

"This is going to be VERY useful! The link below will take you
to the Kindergarten page. Just click the purple arrow to go to
the next grade level. Click on Language, Math or whatever to get
to the subject you are interested in developing for your child.


I think we'll be using it quite a bit when we begin schooling
again in August." -- Shelly M. - HomeschoolingBOYS.com member


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas @ familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

Say What You Mean - Defending the Faith

For more information or to order: www.artofeloquence.com

The time is coming -- your teenager will soon be out in the world,
working, going to school. You’ve worked hard to build a solid
Biblical foundation for them, taking them to church, making sure
the Bible was a part of your homeschool curriculum. So, are they
ready? I mean REALLY ready to face a world that is often question-
ing and sometimes hostile to the very belief system you’ve worked
so hard to teach your children?

'Say What You Mean: Defending the Faith' was developed by homeschool
mom JoJo Tabares to equip students -- 'be ready always to give an
answer...' 1 Peter 3:15. Students embark on a year-long journey of
research and study, guided by 36 week-long lessons which focus on
various questions or challenges others might use in an effort to
either better understand or attempt to sway their Christian beliefs.

'Defending the Faith' is an advanced course in communication. The
author recommends students complete her other courses (Say What You
Mean for Teens/Kids, Know Your Audience, and Say What You Mean: An
Advanced Speech Course) or their equivalent before tackling this one.
These courses are needed to give students sufficient background know-
ledge of basic communication skills such as listening and persuasion,
along with speech skills vital when trying to defend one's faith.

Mrs. Tabares states the three things needed to defend your Christian
faith are the Bible, effective communication skills, and 'Practice,
Practice, Practice!' 'Defending the Faith' does an excellent job of
equipping students and definitely gives them plenty of practice
through a variety of interesting assignments. Along with being easy
to understand, the author’s tone is extremely upbeat and encouraging.

Each week students tackle a question or misunderstanding about the
Christian faith such as, 'I'm already a good person. Why do I need
God?' and 'Christians are intolerant and judgmental.' The answers
to these questions/statements are not handed to the student; instead
the author suggests places to start their research. In addition to
the Bible, these recommendations include parent's input, pastor's
input, using various reference sources, and internet research (she
even provides suggested keywords to use for search terms). Students
take their research and create an outline they will use to prepare a
formal speech presenting their response. Next, students are chal-
lenged to take what they've learned and apply it to various 'role-
play' type situations. This helps them to see how they could commu-
nicate their ideas in different circumstances. For instance, they
might be asked to respond as if they were challenged via email or
to dialogue with a young child. This gives them a chance to see how
their responses would and should vary depending on the person and

Written directly to the student, parents are provided with grading
charts to help evaluate and give feedback. As a parent you will
also want to be available to dialogue with your child and be willing
to be the role-play partner for some assignments. Many teens will
be hearing these questions or challenges for the first time, and
although they should get their questions answered through their own
study, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to share your own
beliefs and listen to them as they sort out their feelings as well.

'Say What You Mean: Defending the Faith' is a fairly rigorous course.
Each lesson will take several hours to complete. In addition to
research, outlining, preparing and presenting their speech, there
are several suggested role-play assignments each week. Even though
it is assumed the student has prior experience researching and
presenting speeches, Mrs. Tabares provides helpful reminders about
foundational communication skills. She also provides many tips on
how to talk with someone who is questioning your faith and she even
shares 'What NOT to Say' along with insights specific to each
lesson's topic.

Families who use 'Defending the Faith' will find their young adults
better grounded in their own beliefs and well-prepared to be salt
and light whether they go off to college or move straight into the


This Resource Review brought to you by Cindy Prechtel at

Last Issue's Reader Question

"Our family has always homeschooled; my children are 12, 10, 7, and
5. Five years ago, my husband was in a work-related accident that
left him unable to work. My husband is at home full time, but he
suffers from chronic pain. Due to workers compensation issues, I
have recently gone to work full time. I've worked part time through-
out the years at several different jobs, but this is the first time
I have had a 40 hour a week job. I specifically sought out a second
shift job so I could continue to homeschool, even though it meant
doing different (and less lucrative) work than I have done in the
past. So, I would like to hear from any other moms who have worked
full time and continued to homeschool. How has this worked out for
your family practically?" -- Lisa in MI

Our Readers' Responses

"I do not have a solution for you but wanted you to know your family
is in my prayers. My husband injured his back 3 years ago at his job
and had been out of work until three weeks ago. I wondered sometimes
how we were going to make it but God is still on His throne and he
will lead you and supply all your needs according to His riches as he
did my family.

Has your husband tried a Chiropractor? My husband was told he needed
surgery but that there was a 40% chance he would be worse after surgery
and a 35% chance he would be the same after surgery and so that only
left a 25% chance that he would be better. He choose instead to go to
a Chiropractor/Neurologist and work on strengthening his back instead.
I was a hard uphill battle for two years, but he is much improved. He
still has to be careful and cannot lift heavy things (my kids and I do
that now) and he had to change careers to find something that he can
do that is sedentary. He was doing small engine repair, and the change
of careers took a full year before he could find someone who would hire

Anyway, I will be praying for your whole family -- for your husband's
healing and freedom from constant pain; for your needing to work full
time and keep the homeschooling going, and for your children to be
understanding and obedient, do their schoolwork and chores without com-
plaint and generally be a great big help to both you and your husband."
-- Debbie in DE


"If hubby is at home now, then he can be a big part of the homeschool-
ing, even if he is disabled. There are many moms who homeschool with
chronic pain, MS, etc. and I hope some of them will write and tell you
of their experiences.

I am a working mom with a stay-at-home hubby. He does games, computer,
educational TV (United Streaming is great), projects, playdates, and
some outside classes during the day when I am working. In the car
(hubby drops me off at work, picks me up from the train) we listen to
audio books. In the morning before work we read together, play some
games, do some chores, etc. In the evening before bed, we do copywork,
scriptures, reading, spelling, and read aloud. I take it upon myself
to make sure that we are covering what we need to, and that things are
working smoothly. We do field trips and other 'schoolwork' on the
weekends and holidays too. We school year-round, so there is no change
in routine, no lost time, and no pressure to cover everything in 9-10
months instead of 12. We still have lots of time for fun." -- Pam


"We had been homeschooling for several years when my husband contracted
West Nile virus. He was completely disabled. Since we school year
round, it wasn't a problem to take time off during the worst and to
assess the situation. We came up with a plan that allowed me to correct
work, check progress and make lesson plans over the weekend. Since my
husband was home, he could make sure the kids were completing their
assignments and the older kids helped the younger kids when they needed
it. I got an overview of their day when I got home. It is not the most
ideal situation, but it works." -- Shawn M.

Answer our NEW Question

"I am a new homeschooling mom and we'll start my oldest in Kinder-
garten this fall. We're all excited but I am also a bit nervous!
I'd love to hear from some experienced moms about how to get started.
I have a curriculum that lists weekly lesson plans. Should I plan
out the day-to-day for several weeks so that I know what we're doing
each day? How many weeks should I plan in advance? What should the
first day be like? I think I'd like to make it 'special' but am not
sure what is appropriate. What are 'must-haves' or 'nice-to-haves'?
How do I handle the 3-year-old and 5-month-old while I'm trying to
get started with the Kindergartener? Do you have any organizing tips?

I realize that each homeschool is different and that there's probably
no 'right way' or 'wrong way' to do this, but suggestions from those
of you who have been there will be much appreciated!" -- Jill in FL


Do you have some experience and/or advice to share with Jill?

Please send your email to: HN-answers @ familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions @ familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

Need Immediate Help?

Visit our Homeschool Encouragement Center! This is a live 24/7
'chat' area where you can talk live to our homeschool counselors
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and let them know that Heather sent you!

This ultra-safe chat is supervised by experienced moms who are
there to serve and share their wisdom... or just offer a listening

Check out our schedule of daily chats and jump right in! :-)


[Note: This ministry is geared toward Christian parents, but all
are welcome. You may need to download a Java program to utilize
this service. Email Luanne @ educationforthesoul.com if you have
any technical difficulties.]

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Next - Insightful Advice for Beginning Homeschooling with Young Ones
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