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'Plans' for the Graduate, Wiggly Boys, The Empty Schoolroom

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, June 20, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 49 June 20, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
And please visit our sponsors! They make it possible. :-)


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One of its best features is that it doesn't take a semester
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Notes from Heather
-- So... What Are Your Plans?
Helpful Tip
-- Wiggly Boys Can Learn
Winning Website
-- Science News for Kids!
Reader Question
-- 'Empty Schoolroom' Syndrome
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

So... What Are Your Plans After Graduation?


Last issue I promised to share about how my oldest son, Ben,
addressed the 'problem' of so many well-meaning friends and
family asking about his post-graduation plans. In reality,
up until this past week, he really didn't have any definite
plans. Although his father and I have always encouraged him
that he was well-suited for college, I have spent equal time
encouraging him not to spend the money (his and/or ours) if
he didn't have a specific reason for going.

Here is a bit of advice if you haven't yet had to face the
onslaught of these types of questions:


After feeling discouraged for several weeks -- even after I
assured him NOTHING was wrong with telling folks you'd like
to just keep doing what you are doing for now (working, playing,
self-study in areas of interest) -- Ben and I started looking
at possible careers.

After all, most kids who decide to attend college and choose
a major do end up changing their mind and going in a different
direction. But it didn't help that Jacob (Ben's really cool
cousin who shared the party with him), had already been accepted
at MSU and was planning on medical school. I wish him all the
best in his career choice, but I don't think anything is wrong
with my son for not knowing yet what he's going to 'be' when
he grows up! ;-)

Ben and I talked things over and I convinced him that he could
create 'tentative' plans just to have something to tell everyone.
But the plans should involve something he is truly interested in
and be fairly well-developed. This was the key!

We started looking at Michigan State (where Jacob will be
attending) because: 1) quite a few relatives had attended there,
including my husband who got a B.S. in Geography, of all things!
2) they accept up to 60 credits from CLEP exams, and 3) they
have a strong forestry program, which was the first thing Ben
thought of.

Looking online at www.msu.edu, we started with the alphabetical
listing of academic programs and areas of study. With only a
few bunny trails along the way, Ben stopped short at this entry:

Bachelor of Science in Park, Recreation and Tourism Resources

"That's IT, Mom!", he said. And so it was. He wanted to be a
park ranger or conservation officer. Remember his trips to
Wyoming? I thought, after the last one, he'd want to be a
paramedic or something related. He LOVES the Search and Rescue
training he gets from Civil Air Patrol, too. To be outside in
nature combined with adventure -- that's really Ben. If he can
have some authority (ie: gun), that would be really cool, too.

We ended up on this page:


If you read down a bit, you'll see that you can choose a
concentration within the major. His would be "Specialization in
Natural Resource Recreation". That's the part that includes the
conservation or recreation law enforcement. ;-)

The best part was that 10 or 11 CLEP exams (up to 33 credits!)
are most likely interchangeable with the first full year. So he
explained what his major would be and how he'd be able to spend
the first year (or however long he wanted to take to do it)
studying for and taking each of the CLEP exams. (You can't be
admitted to MSU till you are done taking all the CLEPs you want
to count.)

It was delightful to hear him explain his well-thought-out plans
to friends and family. They were very encouraging and seemed
entirely placated. And it only took us a few minutes online to
figure it all out! :-)

Nothing is set in stone, everyone is happy, and I see some new
confidence in my son -- it makes him feel good to have some
direction, too -- knowing full well that direction can be
changed at any time.

-- Heather

Further info and links for online Career Planning:


Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Wiggly Boys Learning Phonics

"For my ACTIVE boy we had to be sure he was moving when learning.
To learn his ABCs we wrote them one letter per sheet of copy
paper. He then tossed them all over the floor. I would say the
letter and he would have to jump to the letter on the floor. He
had so much fun! Now he loves to read -- and although he can't
sit still while he reads, he has gotten less squirmy (he is 9 now,
LOL). Find a way to make it a game or get them moving while learn-
ing and you will be fine!"

-- Amberlee, HomeschoolingBOYS.com group member


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

Winning Website

Here's a neat site to check out this week!

Science News for Kids - www.sciencenewsforkids.org

Dedicated to keeping kids informed about advances in science,
this site has articles, games, puzzles, science fair tips,
experiments and more! The articles cover a wide range of topics,
from astronomy and chemistry, to nutrition and technology. The
articles use things kids see everyday to discuss deeper topics.
For instance, one article is about how DNA left on cell phones
can help solve crimes; another is about sugar substitutes.

-- Cindy, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I am a homeschooling mom of six. My husband and I have been home
educating since 1985. My youngest child is seventeen and a senior
next year. She has been participating in dual enrollment courses
(taking college courses that count as high school, as well as
college credit) this past year and will take a full load in the
fall. With only one at home now, and not being her primary instruc-
tor, I don't have nearly the 'work' that I used to have to do. As
you can imagine, the past twenty-five plus years of my life has
been devoted to raising and educating my children. (The three oldest
all have college degrees and are successful. The 3rd and 4th born
are both in college now with excellent GPAs.) I am really feeling
the 'empty school room' syndrome. Is there anyone out there who
has or is going through this? How are you coping/adjusting?

I know, I know. All you ladies who are in up to your eyeballs are
wondering why I'm complaining. You'd think I would be celebrating.
There was a time, which seems not so long ago, that I would have
loved to have this much 'free' time. It just feels sad, lonely,
and depressing to me right now. Any thoughts, anyone?" -- Joanne

Our Readers' Responses

"Joanne, I know exactly how you feel! I found myself in the same
situation seven years ago, when it was down to my youngest, my
daughter, and me. I was glad in many ways to be done with the
older ones, for it meant a lot less work and such. But I missed
them in school (my two older sons were still home, working and
attending community college). Having homeschooled at that point
for 14+ years, it was a really big part of my life!

My daughter and I enjoyed our time together, but she was lonesome
for the guys, too. I planned special projects and field trips, and
we also had a girls' co-op -- a small group of her friends that
got together a few times a month. We did all sorts of projects
and field trips with that, too. We made it through just fine, but
not without a lot of memories and looking back.

When she graduated in 2003, it was a culmination of bittersweet
emotions. I kept getting asked, 'What are you going to do now?'
mostly by moms that were still homeschooling. They were probably
envisioning me free to sit on the couch, eating candy and reading!
I had projects and housecleaning that I always wanted to get to,
so I started doing those things. As nice as it is to have time to
feel like I can get to those things, I still miss homeschooling.
I think that homeschooling can become such a part of you -- being
with the kids, planning, buying books, scheduling field trips,
going to homeschool meetings, etc., that the transition out can
be harder than you might think.

It has helped me to stay busy and look back with gratefulness for
the years I had with the kids. I can't imagine having sent them to
school; I would have missed so much! I would encourage you to find
projects to do and pray about the transition and the next phase in
your life. There is a plan and a purpose for these seasons, to be
sure! Be encouraged that someone else has been there and is living
to tell about it. :-) That someone is also hoping to help with
homeschooling her 6 month old grandson when the time comes, too!"
-- Karen in KY


"I'm not quite there yet, but I am beginning to see that date loom
on the horizon and I've been weighing some ideas that may be things
you could consider, too. The number one best cure for loneliness
I've ever found is to reach out to others and stay busy. To that
end, some of the ideas I've been mulling over are:

Go back to college and finish that degree that you never got OR
take the classes you wish you'd taken while you were getting your
degree but didn't because you didn't have enough time or money.

Are there community groups that you could become involved in that
you care about? Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchen, library board...

Are there young homeschooling moms who are overwhelmed and under-
supported? Is there someone you could volunteer to help as either
a mother's helper or offer to play with the toddler a few mornings
a week so she can focus on helping the older children through
their studies?

Do you have an area of expertise you could offer to a local home-
school group or co-op? Offer to teach a course in a co-op that
doesn't have a mother who is confident in that area.

You have a LOT of experience to offer, and the fact that you
homeschooled long term tells that you are passionate about what
you believe and committed to seeing it through. Find a way to
continue to share those things that are important to you with
others around you. Instead of focusing on this being the end of
your homeschool, look at it as a transition to the next phase
of your life as a woman. Transitions take a bit of time and
adjustment, but they are new beginnings!" -- Luanne in TN


"I'm in my last year with my last child, too. I find it a
bittersweet time because, while I would consider what we've done
a success, I'm going to really miss that time with her... like
I miss having her brother around who is now working on a
carpenter's apprenticeship and married.

It strikes me that while I only had the two, you have the exper-
ience of six! Is there possibly anyone you can help in your
area -- volunteer to take a science class or home ec or whatever
your love or expertise is? In my area there are some grandmas
who homeschooled their children and now help with their grandkids.
You could be an 'auntie' who does the same. I know I would have
appreciated knowing someone of your experience to ask for help
or advice -- especially since I had to work some of the time.

For me I hope to be able to help out where I can. I teach piano
in people's homes and that seems to be greatly appreciated,
especially by those with large families. I also hope to write
a book for homelearners on history and the Bible, as that is an
area of interest for me.

You have a wealth of experience and wisdom that some would surely
benefit from, so while you transition to your new phase of life
perhaps sharing that with other moms would help you feel less
empty." -- Helen C.


"Dear Joanne -- PLEASE write a book. The things you have learned
over the years are invaluable. When you began I'm sure there were
many fewer resources available to home-schoolers. You could share
what you did and how you did it. It doesn't matter if you don't
consider your story particularly unusual; people considering home-
schooling their children, as well as those in the midst of the
home-schooling years, will all be tremendously encouraged by read-
ing your story. It is interesting to read the stories of those who
have become 'rich and famous', but these stories seldom change our
lives. When we read the story of a mum just like us, and her
success home-schooling her large family, then we are all blessed,
encouraged and re-energised.

You could publish it as an e-book so your overheads need not be
large. I hope you'll consider writing your story down for us all."
-- Heather in TN


"Hi Joanne -- Check out this book I recently discovered at my
local library:

'Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest: Discovering New
Purpose, Passion and Your Next Great Adventure' by Barbara Rainey.

As a Christian mother, she writes of many of the same challenges
I am now facing. I think you will enjoy her perspective."
-- Tonie in Washington State


"My heart goes out to you. And even though my children are
still at home, I become sad when I think of how soon they might
be leaving. Your feelings are a testimony to your wonderful
relationship with them, and you are well within your rights to
grieve. After all, it is a type of loss.

Every summer a barn swallow builds its nest just outside our
bathroom window. We watch her sit on the eggs, feed the babies,
and eventually teach them to fly. It's amazing how fast they go
from hatching to flying. We have an advantage over the swallow,
because when her babies fly they no longer need her for anything.
We will always be able to be involved in our children's lives,
even though they are less dependent on us when they leave home.

I don't know how I'll cope. I'm sure that part of it will
simply be going through an adjustment period the same way we do
when any major change occurs in our lives. Time will surely help
somewhat. I have thought about organizing my many homeschool
materials and offer a lending service for resources for other
homeschoolers. I hope that after my children leave it won't take
long for us to have some grandchildren to occupy some of our time.

I respect your feelings far more than I do those of another home-
school mom who shared with me that she couldn't wait to get her
kids out of her house so that she could get on with her life. How
would you like to be the child of a mother who thinks that way?
I hope you have told your children how much you miss them, and
all the reasons why. They will be blessed to know." -- Mary Beth


"You have so much to be proud of and so many accomplishments
under your belt; you are truly a woman I yearn to be. But I
understand your loneliness and emptiness also. I had three chil-
dren, and when the last one was grown and left home, I decided
to become a foster parent and bring more children into the home
and hear their laughter and little footsteps echoing in the halls
instead of an empty house. It has had its down times too, but
overall we have been greatly blessed. At the present time we
have adopted two little girls who were abused and neglected; one
is autistic and one is borderline. They are sisters, and delayed
in developments. It has been so awesome to see how far they have
come. Now I am thinking of homeschooling them, but I am terrified
because of their disabilities and behavior problems. We have
already tried Kindergarten in school for one year for each but
haven't had the best experience, so if you would like to encourage
and train me to be the homeschooler, like you are, I would sure
appreciate any advice or help you can offer. This could help
fill your days for awhile. (HaHa!)" -- Carletta


"Have you considered offering your wealth of expertise and
experience to other homeschooling parents, especially those just
starting out? This would be especially valuable if you have
special skills/abilities in certain areas which other parents might
appreciate a mentor/tutor. God didn't give you all of this exper-
ience -- and desire -- to allow it to go to waste. He has a
purpose!" -- Kay in WV


"You have so much experience and are very successful at what you
do -- why don't you help other women to do the same things for
their children? The Bible speaks of the experienced women helping
the younger women. Consider using some of your free time to mentor
younger mothers. You could do this locally or start a ministry
on the internet. This is a new season in your life and sharing
your years of wisdom and experience could be just the help a
young woman needs." -- Terri

Answer our NEW Question

"I am considering home educating my two nephews next year. The
two boy cousins are 11 and 8, the same ages and approximately the
same grade levels as my daughters. They have been home educated
their whole lives. I am interested in finding out what experiences
others have had in integrating cousins/other children in their home
education style/life. All four of the cousins get along well and
there is good communication/friendship between both sets of parents.
What factors should I be considering? What experiences have others
had? Thanks in advance." -- Nancy in South Dakota


Do you have some wisdom or practical advice to share with Nancy?

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!

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Visit our Homeschool Encouragement Center! This is a live 24/7
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