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Life Skills Prep for Teens, Facing the Empty Homeschool Nest

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, July 23, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 58 July 23, 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!
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Notes from Heather
-- Teaching Life Skills to Teens
Guest Article
-- Prepared for Life
Helpful Tips
-- Ideas for a Life Skills Notebook
Resource Review
-- Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers
Reader Question
-- Facing an Empty Homeschool Nest
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

In This Issue - Teaching Life Skills

One of our readers, Heather L., had a great question
that we answered last issue about high school for
girls who are not planning on pursuing a college
degree. Heather followed up her question with another
on our email group asking about ideas for putting together
a life skills course for her two daughters this year.

This issue of our Homeschooler's Notebook includes a
compilation of her question along with answers she
received from members of the email group (in our
"Helpful Tips" section), a guest article by homeschool
mom and author, Barbara Frank (all about her daughter's
incredible transition to life 'on her own'), and a review
of Barb's very relevant resource, "Life Prep for Home-
schooled Teens" -- for those who would prefer not to
start from scratch and appreciate a prepared guide!

And how about life skills for mothers approaching the
'empty nest' years? Check out the loving and sensitive
responses to Kay's question this issue about coming
to grips with her new identity as a homeschool mom who
has come to the end of her career.

Hope you enjoy this issue! I had fun putting it together.

Heather Idoni, Editor

PS... Need a good audiobook for that upcoming road trip?
See the best I have to offer! http://www.BelovedBooks.com

Guest Article

Prepared for Life

Once our eldest reached her last year of homeschool
high school, I realized that I had very little time
left to teach her the important concepts she would
need to live on her own.

She had already made it clear that she did not want
to go to college. She considered college a way of
delaying adulthood, and she was eager to be an adult.
Her dream was to work and live on her own. She had
been very independent, even as a small child, and that
trait grew stronger as she approached her late teens.

Once I accepted that studying college prep subjects
she had no interest in, like foreign language or chem-
istry, was a waste of time, I realized I could use
that time to teach her what she would need to know to
live on her own. She was always talking about how she
was going to move to this city or that city. Some of
her plans were very impractical because she had no
idea of what it would cost to live on her own. Her
naive talk made me realize she needed solid information.

I pored through my large collection of homeschool cata-
logs, hoping to find resources we could use for her.
But it seemed like most products were geared toward the
college-bound student, and those that remained focused
on homemaking skills. She already knew how to cook
and sew. I was more concerned about how she would
handle credit cards and whether she really understood
how much it would cost her to feed and house herself.

I decided to design sensible projects for her. Each
week found her researching different aspects of living
on her own. She compared rents in different cities,
and interviewed insurance agents, landlords and util-
ity companies.

Soon we branched out to subjects she would need to know
about before she got her first full-time job. She
learned about health insurance (a must, as our health
insurance would not cover her once she turned 19 unless
she attended college full-time). She learned about
taxes and withholding, budgeting and even mortgages.
She educated herself about every aspect of buying a
car, and the pros and cons of car loans.

I noticed that as she completed the projects, her naive
plans slowly turned into more logical ones. By the
time she finished homeschooling, I felt that she was
well-prepared for independence. She started studying
different cities on her own. She researched and bought
her first car, for which she paid cash, because she
understood just how much interest a car loan would have
cost her. And she didn’t move out as soon as she
turned 18, as she'd always said she would, because now
she really understood that she couldn’t afford it yet.

Four years ago, she moved to Chicago. Her first year
there, she lived with two other young women, and taught
them how to budget their money because they had never
learned how. The next year she moved to her own place.
The landlord never raised her rent much because she
always paid on time. When her old car finally died,
she bought a newer one with a substantial down payment
and a small car loan that she has been prepaying.

For most of her time in Chicago, she worked in a book-
store where many of her coworkers were college grads
who couldn't find work in their fields. They were
overwhelmed with college debt and credit card debt;
their creditors would even call them at work.

These coworkers were amazed that she could live nearly
debt-free, yet they couldn't understand why she'd
bring a lunch instead of going out to eat with them.
They teased her about being cheap, yet bummed rides
off of her because she had a car and they didn't. She
earned a side income by charging them to do their
income tax each year because they didn't understand
how to do it.

Next week, she is moving to a more affordable city
because she's tired of paying rent and wants to buy a
house. Knowing she would be moving, she quit her job
a few months ago, and has been living off of money she
had saved up so she could spend some time enjoying the
sights and sounds of Chicago. She still has a good-
sized savings account as a cushion to keep her going
until she finds a job in the city to which she is
moving. She has worked hard to build up her credit
score so that she will be able to get a mortgage in
the near future.

We miss having her at home, but we're very proud of
how well she's doing on her own. She learned her
lessons well. I’m so glad we took the time to prepare
her for life while she was still living here. Being
homeschoolers, we had that time available to us. Now
we can enjoy seeing her succeed at something that was
very important to her: living on her own.


Copyright 2007 Barbara Frank

Note: The projects the author designed for her
daughter are included in her resource "Life Prep
for Homeschooled Teenagers" available at:

(Read more in the "Resource Review" section of this issue!)

Barbara Frank is the mother of four homeschooled-
from-birth children ages 14-23, a freelance writer
and editor, and the author of Life Prep for Home-
schooled Teenagers, The Imperfect Homeschooler's
Guide to Homeschooling, and Homeschooling Your
Teenagers. You can follow her blog at:


Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather @ familyclassroom.net


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

Creating a Life Skills Course

Heather L. wrote... "I am going to be putting together a Life
Skills course for my 2 teen daughters this coming school year.
I would like to have some ideas of what topics would be good to
study about for this. Any suggestions?

Also I plan for them to notebook the course and would love some
ideas on what would be good to include in a Life Skills notebook."

(The answers and ideas Heather received are below.)


A few good things are the budget, housekeeping lists, food.
Another thing for the budget is for them to plan the 'big move
out' and actually see the cost -- what type of place they would
rent, car to drive; add in insurance, food, utilities. I have
been working with my girls on the daily stuff here and am going
to get them started on that exercise. That way they can see how
much they need to make to get by. My friend's daughter went into
sticker shock after she did it.


Designing a menu
Monthly/Yearly Budgeting
Balancing a Checkbook (or better, living without one!)
Basic Sewing
Note writing/Thank yous
Taking/Giving compliments
How to be a good host(ess)
Basic Home repairs
Scheduling/Overseeing Home Maintenance projects
How to Clean a room


Bread making, how to (and how not to) get a loan, how to clean
-- flylady techniques are great! www.flylady.net

We've been reading the Little House series and the librarian
hooked us up with a great movie about how homesteading children
lived. It was great seeing the differences between the way we
live today and back then. And if we ever lose electricity, we
won't starve.


Besides all the ideas of sewing, cooking, cleaning -- one that
we used with a daughter leaving home for college was that she
must know how to change a tire and check the oil, etc. in her car.
My husband had her jack the car up and show him she could change
the tire all by herself. She was not afraid of a car engine and
this saved her a lot of money and also helped keep her safer over
the years. As a teenager one summer I set the task that she would
learn to sew when I got back from vacation. When I returned, she
had already sewn several garments. She became a more ambitious
sewer than I was! On the same note my son had to know how to cook
and sew. (He had already been doing his own laundry since he was
11 years old.) I did not want him to 'have to get married' because
he needed a button sewn on a shirt.


I am putting together a household notebook for our house. What
if your girls did that for their notebook? Here are some ideas
of what others have put in theirs:


Also check out Cindy Rushton's websites.

I didn't double check if these were included but a bible memory
and/or reading section would be nice and a journaling section also.
A budget and all those things would be great. This would be a fine
time to start saving if they haven't already. An idea section for
home improvements or handicrafts, etc. The girls could also practice
setting goals and meeting them, keeping their own schedules, etc.
You know what they can do and what they need to learn.

As each section is made, can go through and learn those skills then
later go back through and review/test those skills. Then could have
a review week where they 'run' the household!


Cooking and household organization skills. Also, my friend is
researching money making skills -- just the basics -- the best
interest rates, etc. Nobody learns that as a teen and if we had,
we could all be rich by now!


Don't leave out money management! Here are some topics in that area:

How to Balance a Checkbook
How to Make a Budget
Gross Pay Verses Net Pay
How to Write a Business Letter (They may need to contact a creditor
or dispute a charge some day.)
How Compound Interest Works
How to Make a Business Call
How to Set Up Utilities
How to Buy Insurance


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

Resource Review

Life skills: Middle to high school
Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers
Author: Barbara Frank
Publisher: Cardamom Publishers
For more information or to order:

"So much to do, so little time." Or, so much to instill,
so little time. That's the feeling that inspired Barbara
Frank to write 'Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers', a
resource for teaching life skills to teenaged students.
The author wished to reinforce family values and instill
financial and worldview principles for her teenage chil-
dren before they left home as adults.

The two components of Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers
are a reading list and a set of projects, designed to
expose teens to principles, skills, and information needed
by most adults.

The reading list consists of nineteen recommended books
and other resources, covering living (life and worldview),
financial freedom, investing, and the working world.
Included are materials by respected secular authors such
as Dale Carnegie, and Christian authors such as James
Dobson and Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.

Life Prep also outlines twelve research projects involving
credit, automobiles, health insurance, living expenses,
budgeting, mortgages, and taxes. For the college-bound
student, there is a project dealing with writing a college
application essay. The projects are practical, hands-on
exercises using real-life materials, and most of them
involve active research by the student.

The lessons are designed to be used flexibly. The author
suggests reading and projects for both work-bound and
college-bound teenagers. She gives concrete suggestions
for customizing Life Prep for your individual child,
recommending books and projects for a "bare minimum" if
you have very little homeschooling time left, or for
greater depth if you plan to use it over the course of
two or more years.

For most of the projects you will need Internet access.
Not every part of every lesson may be at your disposal (e.g.,
hospital or pharmacy bills to evaluate for the health
insurance project), but the students will still learn a
great deal even if they skip an activity. Just as you can
pick and choose projects for your student to complete, you
can also choose which project activities you'll use.

High school students will likely find these projects
meaningful and relevant, as they teach something students
this age are eager to learn: what you need to know to live
on your own.

P.S. - Many young (and not-so-young) adults may find this
resource useful, too!

(Reviewed by Marcy Schaller, homeschool mom of 2)


This review brought to you by Cindy Prechtel of

Last Issue's Reader Question

"Our daughter has decided she will complete her last year of high
school at our local public high school where she has attended part-
time for the past three years. I have accepted her decision and
will support in her in any way necessary. Here's my dilemma: Now
that I won't be homeschooling anymore I feel a part of me has died.
A major part of my identity lies in my status as her teacher. Any
suggestions on making the transition easier for me (and perhaps our
daughter)?" -- Kay

Our Readers' Responses

"Kay -- I sympathize with you! When I graduated my daughter from
homeschool, two years ago, I fell into a deep depression. Thank-
fully I have three other children and have been able to bounce
back! I would recommend that you get more involved with your
church by teaching Sunday School, get involved in the community by
volunteering maybe at your local pregnancy center, or immerse your-
self into a hobby like scrapbooking. You could also go back to
school yourself and pursue some dreams that you shelved when you
dedicated your life to raising your daughter. Whatever you do,
don't allow yourself to feel like your life has ended. Think of
it as beginning a new chapter; turn the pages, and enjoy writing
your own story!" -- Noreen


"Maybe you can volunteer at the high school that she will be
attending or join a co-op to see if you can teach a course. You
can also help her with her homework. Maybe this can be a chance
for you take up a new hobby. She sounds like your only child,
which could make this transition naturally rough. We have four
children and the two oldest graduated. Our two youngest decided
to attend the local public school next fall. I have to accept
their decision. I am going through what you are feeling. Remember
you will always be her guidance, be there for her, listen with open
ears... it sounds like she was taught well. This is always the
hardest part of being a parent; to watch them become adults and
become independent. We have to accept them going out into the
world on their own and never doubt what we had taught them, praying
that they will make the right decisions. You want to protect them.
I think that is really what you are feeling. If they do make the
wrong decision, we have to be there for them to listen and only
give advice when they ask for it. Just remember you still are MOM!
She will always come to you first. You are in our prayers." -- Pam S.


"Your life has just entered a new season. Take hope! I would suggest
buying the 'Career Direct' CD from Crown Financial Ministries. I have
been going through the same thing. This program will get you thinking
about your next phase of life. What are your interests? What skills,
abilities, and talents did God place in you? You are so much more
than you realize. You may be dwelling in the past and dreading the
future. Remember God is in the NOW. When you are depressed (and I am
not talking about people who have a chemical imbalance and need medical
care) it is usually because we are thinking that the future God has in
mind for you will be worse than now. But you are not giving God a
chance to take your future and make it greater than you ever imagined!
Not just for you, but for your daughter too. Get started today. Do a
little each day to plan your future. Remember when you were a kid?
What did you like to do? Did you ever get so involved in something
that the hours went by and you did not even realize it? That will be
the area you will explore to make a new life with. I will be praying
for you!" -- Gina in Texas


"Hi Kay! What a life change for you to have your daughter choose to
finish her last year at the high school. Please remember that this
doesn't mean that she needs you less. She just needs you for different
things. There are countless children of all ages who need some input
from caring adults. If you have time on your hands, there are plenty
of lives to pour that time into. Consider what you like to do. Also
consider the children or adults you may already know that you could
work with. Maybe it's people in your neighborhood, at your church,
or in a local homeschool group. Do a little research on what's out
there in your area. Also, develop some of your own personal interests.
What have you wanted to learn or wanted to do and haven't been able to
make the time? There are so many ways to meaningfully spend the time
you now have. Life is full of changes. Some of them are quick and
easy and some of them feel so huge its hard to see the other side.
Take heart, many parents have made this big life change and developed
the new skills needed for the next stage of their life." -- Alisha


"I think you go through a grieving process when you stop homeschooling;
after all, you are losing a BIG part of your life. I felt that way
when my eldest two finished homeschool high school a year apart. Even
though I had two kids who were six and eight years younger that I was
still homeschooling, I felt a loss.

That's when I resurrected my writing career. I took all my sadness
and channeled it into building a small publishing business. It has
been a blessing in many ways. Now that I have two more in high school,
the combination of work and homeschooling keeps me too busy to think
about life post-homeschooling!

The moms of my older children's friends dealt with post-homeschooling
sadness by restarting old careers or beginning new ones. One took
classes and became a realtor. Another became a pharmacy tech. A third
has a very busy career managing her adult sons' successful rock band!

Just remember that God still has plans for you; ask Him what they are
and watch for opportunities to grow even more!"

-- Barbara Frank, Cardamom Publishers


"Kay, I know exactly how you feel because I just went through those
same feelings for the last few months! My life changed drastically
from February of this year until April. I've always been a stay-at-
home, homeschooling mom. That was my job, and I loved it! Then my
16 year old twins started to drive, got jobs during the day, and began
to do more with their friends when they weren't working. I went from
being with them all the time to hardly seeing them. It was very trau-
matic for me. I felt as is they didn't need me any more, and my life
as I knew it was over.

I began to pray and seek God's will for my life. He lead me to a
wonderful lady named Cindy, and she said that I had to begin to make
a life for myself. It's been hard because my life has always been my
kids! God lead me to Proverbs 3:5 and 6 - 'Trust in the Lord with
all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all
thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.'

You must make a new path for yourself. What have you always wanted to
do, but never had the time? Now is the time! For me, it was to return
to college to get my degree, so as of August I will be a student again!
I'm very excited about the new path God has provided for me.

He promised to never leave us nor forsake us. Seek Him and His will,
and I promise you, He will open a door or maybe even many doors for
you to choose to walk through. God bless you!" -- Debbie in FL

Answer our NEW Question

"We are at this point doing Abeka 1st grade language, letters
and sounds, math and writing; but it's a lot of worksheets!
Many of them we only do bits and pieces of or do them orally,
but I don't want to just say 'Good job... now throw it away!'
I've been saving it all, but it's a lot of paperwork. Any tips?"
-- Beth in NC


Do you have ideas and/or advice for Beth and her paper problem?

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
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